Alligators Water Dancing

Amorous alligators call to mates with a behavior known as water dancing. Their audible bellows are accompanied by infrasonic soundvibrations below the 20 Hz limit of human hearing. These vibrations from their lungs excite Faraday waves in the water near the alligator’s back and make the surface explode in a dance of jets and atomized droplets. I’ve seen similar results in other instances of vibration, but this may be the only example of this I’ve seen in the wild. Researchers studying the phenomenon noted that the frequency of sound the alligators emit corresponds to a wavelength equal to the spacing of the raised scales, or scutes, on the alligators’ backs. They hypothesize that the shape of the scutes helps males create the display.  (Image credit: N. Marven, source; research credit: P. Moriarty and R. Holt; h/t to io9)


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